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Are You Turning Employee Caregivers Away?

employee caregivers

Do you adequately support your employee caregivers? Do you even know who they are, or are they hidden among your workforce? Are your recruiting efforts turning off great candidates because your benefits and policies don’t support family caregivers? 

You can’t do it all, yet many employee caregivers have no choice but to try. That’s because 53 million Americans provide unpaid care for a loved one. According to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, that translates to one in five American workers at any given time. And we’re not talking about parents of small children. Nearly 42 million Americans provide 24/7 care to parents and loved ones aged 50 or older. 

Hidden Employee Caregivers

About 44% of family caregivers employed full-time have had to go part-time at some point because they were caring for a loved one. One in three have been forced to leave the workforce entirely at some point to be a caregiver (disproportionately affecting women, minorities, and hourly workers).

Some workers who left the job market during the pandemic would love their jobs back, only they’ve become family caregivers and need more resources than before to make returning to the workforce a viable option. Other caregivers who didn’t have to leave the workforce are finding that dwindling pandemic resources, a return to the office, strained daycare and caregiving facility resources due to staffing issues, and inflation costs are finally pushing them to a breaking point.

“As a nation, we are facing a caregiving cliff,” says AARP. “In order to recruit and retain talented employees, employers must address the reality that many of their employees carry this extra burden.”

“People continue to have a hard time balancing work and household responsibilities, and because of the way our society is structured, mothers are getting the biggest hit,” adds AGE of Central Texas’ Caleb Masuaku. “[And] as surprising as it is, many employers are not aware of the caregiving journey of some of their employees. A recent survey reported that only 52% of working caregiving disclose the information to their employers.”

Providing Support

A recent survey found that 79% of employee caregivers don’t have access to caregiver support benefits at their workplaces. Parental leave policies have improved by leaps and bounds since the pandemic started. Research shows that adjusting leave for paternity and childcare challenges has paid off, too. But support for other family caregivers lags behind.

“The majority of employers…permit employees to use their sick, vacation or personal days for caregiving, but few have leave or benefits programs designed specifically for caregivers,” says Cathy Siska, COO of Austin Benefits Group.

To move the needle at your organization, consider these resources:

  • AARP’s free tool kits for employers, which include an online manager training course designed to help employers build a caregiver-friendly culture. There’s even a way to schedule a lunch-and-learn with an AARP caregiving expert.
  • Flexibility is the most common need of employee caregivers, but it’s not enough. Check out this SHRM article that explores other practical and inexpensive forms of support like relevant employee assistance programs (EAP) benefits.

Employee caregivers can be among your best and brightest. As recruiting and retention continue to be challenging, don’t lose at least 30% of your workforce and job candidates because you lack the understanding and resources to support them when they need it. Our advisors can help you design an environment that’s supportive and inclusive, and our recruiters can help you bring that message to job candidates seeking the right culture fit.